The 81 Division of Nigerian Army says it will commence Exercise Crocodile Smile IV on Tuesday in Lagos and Ogun states simultaneously.
Major Kamarudeen Adegoke, Acting Deputy Director, Army Public Relations, said in a statement that the exercise would be conducted from November 19 to December 23.
The Army Spokesman said that the exercise was aimed at enhancing troops operational proficiency, inter-agency cooperation and civil -military coordination.
It said that the exercise was also aimed at curbing prevalent contemporary security challenges such as kidnapping, armed robbery, cultism, ritual killing and pipeline vandalism within its area of responsibility.
There would be free medical outreach, maintenance of some selected roads and distribution of educational materials to some schools in Lagos and Ogun State, he said.
The statement advised members of the public not to panic on sighting troops and movement of military equipment throughout the period of exercise.
It said that the Gov Babajide Sanwo-Olu would declare the exercise open on Tuesday.
The Commander Operation Lafiya Dole on Friday inaugurated two special court martial to instil discipline within the theatre, trial of six officers and 14 other found wanting in the discharge of their duties.
Theatre Commander, Major General Olusegun Adeniyi, while inaugurating the courts at the Maimalanri Cantonment on Friday, said that the safety and well-being of Nigerians depends considerably on the willingness and readiness of men and women to defend against threats.
He said, “It is worrisome to observe the increasing cases of negligence, lackadaisical and cowardly activities of many of our personnel during Boko Haram terrorists’ offensive actions across the theatre today.
“The reason for the two court martial was to fast track the trial of the accused persons, as justice delayed is justice denied.
“As we all know, the court martial trial is a regimental and judicial exercise that may review, reduce or remove the right and privileges of any convicted service personnel.
“It is unique to the military and a tributary of a criminal trial that flows in the sea of Nigerian criminal justice system.
“These unprofessional and disgraceful habits have led to the death of many of our gallant colleagues and these attitudes must not be allowed to continue if we must retain our national pride.
“Breaches of military discipline must be dealt with speedily and frequently punished more severely than would be the case if civilian is engaged in such conduct.
“The military has its code of service discipline to allow it meet its peculiar disciplinary needs, therefore recourse to the ordinary criminal court would as a general rule, be inadequate to serve the disciplinary needs of the military.”
Human rights lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN), has sued the Nigerian Army, it’s Chief of Army Staff and the Attorney-General of the Federation, praying for an order stopping the planned Operation Positive Identification by the army.
The suit marked FHC/L/CS/1939/2019 was filed before the Federal High Court in Lagos on October 25.
According to Falana, the planned nationwide operation scheduled for November 1, to December 23, 2019, by which Nigerian citizens would be required to move about with means of identification is unconstitutional, illegal, null and void.
He argued that the planned operation violates his right and that of other Nigerian citizens to liberty, “as encapsulated in Section 35 respectively of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 as Amended and Article 6 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act, (Cap A10) Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.”
He filed along with the suit an order seeking an interim injunction restraining the three defendants from going on with the plan pending the hearing of the substantive suit.
In a supporting affidavit filed along with the suit, Falana recalled that on October 8, 2019 the Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai disclosed that the Operation Positive Identification, said to be ongoing in the North East theatre of Boko Haram insurgency would be extended to cover the entire nation.
He said the operation required Nigerian citizens to move about with legitimate means of identification such as the National Identification Card, Voters Registration Card, Drivers’ Licence and passports or other valid official identification.
He noted that the increase in deployment of security forces nationwide would be with potential of movement disruption, and the army had thus advised Nigerians to ensure that they always carry valid means of identification.
Falana argued, through his lawyers, Mrs. Funmi Falana and Taiwo Olawanle, who filed the suit on his behalf, that by virtue of Section 215 (3) of the Constitution, the Nigeria police force “has the exclusive power to maintain law and order and secure public safety and public order in the country” and not the army.
He contended that going by section 217(1) of the Constitution, the Nigerian President of could only deploy the armed forces for the suppression of insurrection and acting in aid of civil authorities to restore law and order.
But he said, “There is no insurrection in every part of the country which the Nigeria police cannot contain to warrant the deployment of armed troops all over the country from November 1, 2019 to December 23, 2019.
“Neither the Constitution nor the Armed Forces Act Cap A20 LFN, 2004 has empowered the Nigeria Army to arrest any citizen who is not subject to service law.
“The 1st respondent (the Nigerian Army) under the leadership of the 2nd respondent is not empowered to take over police duties and the President and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces lacks the power to deploy members of the armed forces in the maintenance of internal security in any part of the country by virtue of Section 217 (a) (b) and (c) of the 1999 Constitution, as amended.”
The House of Representatives on Tuesday called on President Muhammadu Buhari to suspend Operation Positive Identification being planned by the Nigerian Army.
Several members of the House, who spoke on a motion by the Minority Leader, Ndudi Elumelu, condemned the operation as anti-people which allegedly posed threats to human rights.
Besides the lawmakers, Nigerian Bar Associations and other groups including Committee for the Defence of Human Rights, faulted the excercise.
The Army had last month said it planned Operation Positive Identification in the North-East to flush out Boko Haram insurgents
But later on September 25, it said the exercise would be extended to other parts of the country. It stated the exercise would enable soldiers to accost citizens on the streets or roads and ask them to produce a means of identification.
It said the exercise would check bandits, kidnappers, armed robbers, ethnic militia, cattle rustlers, as well as other sundry criminals across the various regions of the country.
But in the House of Representatives on Tuesday, lawmakers unanimously resolved that that the Nigerian Army should develop “a pro-people strategy in confronting our security challenges instead of measures that would further victimise the people.”
They also urged the President, being the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, to “review the situation and stop the Army from commencing the planned operation scheduled to begin on November 1, 2019, to make way for further consultations.”
The House also directed the Committee on Army to liaise with the Chief of Army Staff, Lt-Gen Tukur Buratai, to develop “a pro-people strategy in combating crimes before commencing same.”
Moving the motion, Elumelu said the OPI would “downgrade Nigerians to suspects and in fact conquered persons in their country, thereby stripping them of their constitutionally guaranteed freedom of movement.”
According to the Minority Leader, the operation is a recipe for possible militarisation of Nigeria.
He warned that the nationwide operation would also amount to an “indirect imposition of a state of emergency across the country by the Army.
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Elumelu said military operations that had direct contact and regulation of civilians could result in “abuses and serious safety issues, especially at this time the nation is battling with the scourge of victimisation and extrajudicial killings.”
He said the planned implementation of OPI across the nation would rather worsen the security situation in the country.
Quit if you lack ideas, lawmaker urges security chiefs
A member, Ahmadu Jaha, criticised the security chiefs for the multiple code-named military operations across the country.
Jaha said, “I will like to emphasise that if our security chiefs are out of ideas, they should let Nigerians know about that so that they can voluntarily give way for other people who have new ideas on how to fight insecurity in this country.
“Travelling from Abuja to Maiduguri (Borno State capital), before linking the various local government areas, it takes not less 14 hours. That is under normal circumstances. In the event whereby you (military) have to ask them (commuters) to identify themselves at different military checkpoints before they proceed, for God’s sake, how many days will take them to move from Abuja to Maiduguri or from Maiduguri to Chibok or from Maiduguri to Damboa or Maiduguri to Gwoza?
“So, this is basically not the work of the military but the work of the Nigeria Immigration Service. How do you tell a common man from my village that he must have an identity card before he moves around? This is a violation of fundamental human rights.”
Besides members of the House of Representatives, prominent lawyers and human rights groups condemned the exercise.
It is the height of insanity – SAN
A Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Chief Mike Ozekhome, in an interview with The PUNCH, said the entire National Assembly should throw its weight behind the call to suspend the Operation Positive Identification, which he described as “the height of insanity and madness”.
“They should withdraw that policy as urgently as possible,” Ozekhome told one of our correspondents on the telephone.
He said, “It should not just be the House of Representatives, it should be the entire National Assembly that should descend on this policy heavily, to show that it’s not a rubber-stamp National Assembly people were saying it would be.
“They should not just shout it, they should put it in their votes and proceedings, pass the resolutions, pass motions, and stop this maddening government from going madder and madder.
“It is the height of insanity for citizens to be told to produce their identity card or driving licence, or passport when they are on the streets of their country.
“I have never heard of that. Even the United States of America does not tell foreigners to produce their passports or driving licences when they go about their normal duties. That is why I said this policy is the height of insanity and madness.
“What it simply means is that on the day you forget your identity card or other means of recognition, at home, it means you are an illegal immigrant and will be deported immediately. The more we tend to excuse this government, the more it delves more and more into infamy.”
He called on the President Muhammadu Buhari administration to “remind itself that we are not in despotism, we are not in military dictatorship, we are not in absolutism, we are not in fascism; this is supposed to be a democracy not government for the few by the cabal and by the dictators.”
The Nigerian Army, on Monday, took the battle against insurgency to a spiritual realm.
A seminar themed: “Countering Insurgency and Violent Extremism in Nigeria through Spiritual Warfare”, was organised at the Nigeria Army Resource Centre in Abuja.
The seminar was organised by the army’s directorate of chaplain services Roman Catholic, Protestant and directorate of Islamic affairs.
Tukur Buratai, army’s chief of staff, who was represented by Mohammed Yusuf, chief of administration, declared the seminar open.
Buratai said the need to defeat the ideologies of the insurgents was based on the awareness that it was their ideologies that had enhanced their resources and how to recruit new fighters to their folds.
Spiritual controls the physical
According to him, terrorism will wither and die if the ideology is killed.
“By its nature, ideologies have the power to manipulate what people think, inform their opinion and direct their attitude. It is a well known fact that terrorism and terrorist groups will not be totally eliminated by mainly military actions,” he said.
“This means focusing our effort on the under laying narratives through ideologies that are employed by these terrorist groups to lure innocent citizens into their fold.
“Communities and the states need to be joined with the common purpose of rejecting the ideology of this group and those who exposed them. This can be better achieved through the provision of appropriate counter narratives targeted at the ideology of the terrorist group.”
The Nigerian Army on Tuesday began the trial of the former General Officer Commanding, 8 Division, Sokoto State, Maj Gen Hakeem Otiki, over the alleged diversion of the sum of N400 million by some soldiers in the division.
The trial at the General Court Martial, which sat at the Army Officers’ Mess, Asokoro, began at about 12:30pm, and is ongoing at the time of filing this report.
The General Court Martial is presided over by the army’s Chief of Policy and Plans, Nigerian Army Headquarters, Lt. Gen Lamidi Adeosun.
The Nigerian Army had on July 21 begun the quizzing of the former GOC, the missing N400 million said to have been stolen by escort soldiers in the division.
The former GOC had been interrogated by the Directorate of Military Intelligence, the Special Intelligence Bureau and the Nigerian Army Corps of Military Police.
Five soldiers had been confirmed to have carted away a consignment containing the money, while on an escort duty from Sokoto to Kaduna states in the first week of July 2019.
The money was allegedly to be delivered to a Very-Important Personality in Kaduna.
The army’s spokesman in 8 Division, Lieutenant Audu Arigu, had confirmed the incident, adding that investigation had commenced into the incident.
He identified the runaway soldiers as Corporal Gabriel Oluwaniyi, Corporal Mohammed Aminu, one Corporal Haruna, Oluji Joshua and Hayatudeen.
Army sources said the runaway soldiers perfected their escape by turning in their rifles and their mobile phones at the Infantry Corps in Jaji, Kaduna State, on the day of theft before they escaped.
On September 5, our correspondent had reported that Otiki was undergoing a course at the Administrative Staff College of Nigeria, Badagry, Lagos State.
The acting Director, Army Public Relations, Col Sagir Musa, had confirmed this to our correspondent through a chat, when asked the whereabouts of the major general.
When asked where Maj Gen Hakeem Otiki was, the army spokesman, Musa replied, “Posted to ASCON on course.”
The Defence Headquarters, Abuja, had on July 23 assured during a press conference that the outcome of the ongoing investigations on the former GOC would be made public.
On Tuesday, the military formally began the trial of Otiki, as sources said he was summoned from Lagos State to undergo the court process.
The outcome of the court proceedings is still being awaited as of the time of filing this report.
There was, however, drama at the general court-martial as the lawyer to the defendant, Otiki, said he was not comfortable to have Lt Gen Lamidi Adeosun head the court, as he was an interested party in the case.
The lawyer, Okechukwu Adinu, asked that Adeosun recused himself from the trial
Nigerian soldiers fighting Boko Haram in Borno are losing motivation and struggling to match the insurgents’ might, according to the New York Times.
The NYTimes said in a new report that contrary to the claims of the Nigerian government and the military that Boko Haram has been degraded, the insurgents’ power is growing in parts of the north-east.
They are said to operate with more sophisticated weapons including improved drones while soldiers struggle to keep up with “obsolete weapons and ineffectual strategy”.
DEGRADED OR MOTIVATED?
Nigerian authorities have continued to say the war against Boko Haram which has lasted a decade, has been largely successful.
President Muhammadu Buhari restated that claim four days ago when he said the insurgents have been degraded even though he admitted they still have “remnants”.
But the report quoted various sources as saying the military is demoralised and “on the defensive”.
“Some soldiers have complained they haven’t had a home leave in three years. Their weapons and vehicles have fallen into disrepair,” it said.
“(But) Boko Haram militants are still roaming the countryside with impunity. Their fighters now have more sophisticated drones than the military and are well-armed after successful raids on military brigades, according to local politicians and security analysts.”
‘SOLDIERS RUN FOR DEAR LIFE’
Although the military often says Boko Haram is not in control of any major territory, the newspaper said it learnt the insurgents control four of the 10 zones in northern Borno state.
They are also said to be pulling off “almost-daily” attacks in various parts of the north-east particularly in Borno, while the soldiers are often said to run and take cover.
The report said: “Some soldiers have fled in the face of attacks rather than staying to fight, according to accounts from residents.”
“Abubakar, 13, said he was coming home from school in the town of Gubio in late August when he saw several soldiers racing through the village. “Run for your lives,” they were screaming as they fled, he said. Boko Haram is coming!”
“The boy, whom The NYTimes is not identifying for security reasons, said he watched as soldiers stripped off their uniforms and changed into everyday clothes. They parked their army truck under a tree, piled into a civilian car and sped away.”
Another woman from Gubio spoke of how four terrified soldiers “joined her family in hiding, and five more hid in her neighbor’s house”.
“She said they kept silent inside for two days as militants ransacked the town and loudly bragged about how easy it was to seize,” the report said of a particular attack in which three people were reportedly killed.
There are also complaints of the “old and ineffectual strategy” being used by the military to sustain the fight against the insurgents including the operation of “super camps” recently introduced.
“But some officials call the super camps an outright retreat,” the report said, quoting a government official as saying “soldiers were merely barricading themselves inside super camps (while) Boko Haram fighters are raiding the gear the soldiers are leaving behind as they abandon their posts for the camps”.
Sagir Musa, army spokesman, did not immediately respond to enquiry for comments on the report.
But the New York Times quoted A. K. Karma, a major who is among the officials at Bama super camp, as denying claims that Boko Haram has remained motivated.
“We have one or two problem attacks by Boko Haram, but that doesn’t mean they have a grand offensive,” he said.
Residents of Borno say they have lost confidence in the military over the lingering Boko Haram crisis.
In an open letter signed by Hassan Boguma, a traditional ruler, the residents accused the military of not doing enough, saying Boko Haram now attacks without any countermeasure.
The letter comes after Babagana Zulum, governor of Borno state, blamed the military over recent attacks on Gubio and Magumeri local government areas in the state.
While addressing state house correspondents at the weekend, the governor had said the establishment of “super camps” had made it easy for the insurgents to storm communities without any resistance.
“The attempts by Boko Haram to intimidate and attack communities in the state and the actions of our soldiers in the frontline has made us lose confidence in the recent military’s performance in protecting not only the vulnerable citizens but even the territorial boundaries of the nation,” the letter read.
“Your Excellency, while lauding the efforts of the N/Army for their gallantry in other parts of the state, much is needed to be done in areas around MMC and Jere and in recent attacks on Nganzai, Gajiganna, Gubio, Magumeri, Amurwa, Kalali Abdul, Wanori and yesterday, Dalori villages. The incessant and daring attacks by BHT is becoming a source of great concern to citizens living in the two local governments and five villages simultaneously attacked for three days without any countermeasures or even a response to distress calls from the locals.
“A country’s armed forces were supposed to be a proud and patriotic defenders of both the nation’s territories and its citizens, but our today’s men of the armed forces were either overwhelmed by the desire to amass wealth by all means and, on the blood of the innocent Nigerian citizens, or have been compromised by theories of conspiracy and collaboration by deserting their formations in the face of attacks by the insurgents.”
The residents said the present crop of soldiers on the frontline are not ready to fight, as in most cases they do not pursue the insurgents.
They also accused military commanders of turning the war theatre into a milking cow.
Although the government had always maintained that it has technically defeated the insurgents, residents told the president that he is being fed with false information on the situation at the war theatre.
“You are either fed with false information, or raising hopes of technical defeat of the BH which is far from the truth,” the letter further read.
“The recent systematic attacks on Gubio a strategic battalion and forcing them to withdraw is not only a shame but a slap on the face of our armed forces and a smack of mockery and abuse on the strength and professionalism of our armed forces which was once a formidable force in the Africa.
“Patriotism being the hallmark of all military operations is near absent, in most cases men that were lacking in experiences of war tactics were posted a seeming guerrilla like operations. The special forces that would have dealt with the peculiarities of insurgency were not properly involved in the operation and munitions that could have been used were not on ground to confront the monster head on.”
Instead of taking the offensive to the insurgents, residents said troops were confined to their trenches, waiting to be attacked.
They argued that the continued reports of repels and foiling of attacks were never a war strategy that is intended to end.
According to them, there are many questions to be asked in the face of the recent actions of the military in the operation as there is a seeming case of sabotage, collaboration and negligence seen in most of the recent attacks.
At the time the letter was written, residents said all military formations have been withdrawn from all their strategic locations and this action has made the remaining communities more vulnerable to attacks.
They added that this action had also emboldened confidence of the insurgents to daily attack and ransack communities that were unprotected due to the lack of military presence.
In what it called “super camp”, the army had dissolved its formations in some Borno villages into larger camps where safety of troops are guaranteed and can strategically advance on the insurgents.
Nigerian soldiers manning a checkpoint in Adamawa State have intercepted six mine resistance vehicles that seemed to have been transported into Nigeria without due process.
The military personnel, attached to the Nigerian Army 23 Armoured Brigade in Yola, seized the equipment in Fufore Local Government Area this week.
The Nigerian Army could not immediately verify the ownership of the equipment, where they were being shipped from and their destination, according to military sources.
Although the Nigerian Army headquarters has directed an urgent investigation into the discovery, the equipment have been handed over to the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) in the interim.
On Saturday, the commander of 23 Armoured Brigade, S.G. Mohammed, handed over the vehicles to the comptroller of Customs in charge of Adamawa and Taraba, Olumoh Kamaldeen, at a ceremony in Konkol, Fufore LGA.
It is not immediately clear whether suspects have been arrested. It is illegal to import such equipment without an end-user certificates from the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA), which is the only federal agency with powers to issue such document.
The development could further upset security agencies, who have continued to grapple with acute insecurity and violence across the country.
Security analysts regularly question how terrorists and other criminals acquire weapons they have used to keep the country under siege for many years, urging security and intelligence agencies to devote more time to understanding the complex web of illicit arms movement.
The latest seizure of six mine-resistance all terrain vehicles (MATV) came three months after a Nigerian politician, Ibikunle Amosun, handed over weapons he had illegally stockpiled for several years to the police.
Amosun kept the weapons for several years at Government House, Abeokuta, until his last day in office when he realised he would no longer enjoy immunity from arrest and prosecution.
The police have failed to arrest the former governor, now a serving senator, despite the widespread uproar and concerns amongst Nigerians that prosecuting Amosun could serve as deterrence to other politicians involved in proliferation of deadly arms across the country.
The Ogun State Police Command has said soldiers from the 81 division were involved in the killing of some residents of Isheri Olofin, a boundary community between Lagos and Ogun States.
The police spokesperson, DSP Abimbola Oyeyemi, said statements from eyewitnesses revealed that the soldiers dragged a resident from the hospital where he was being treated and stabbed him to death with a bayonet.
Our correspondent had earlier reported that during the celebration of the Isheri Day Festival on Monday, a disagreement broke out among some residents.
In the ensuing fracas, some soldiers were reported to have shot dead three people at the party.
A statement by the Assistant Director, Army Public Relations, Major Clement Abiade, had denied military involvement in the killing, saying instead a soldier was injured.
But the Ogun State Police Command in its statement by Oyeyemi said at least four soldiers were involved in the killings.
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He said, “The Commissioner of Police, Bashir Makama, has ordered a full-scale investigation into the “Isheri Day” shooting incident in Ogun State on August 13, 2019, by suspected soldiers believed to be from Ikeja Cantonment, with a view to bringing the suspects to justice.
“Credible Information at the disposal of the command has it that on the said date, four men of the Nigerian Army believed to be from Ikeja Cantonment and posted to Kara Market, left their beats and went to Isheri Olofin, a border town between Lagos and Ogun State where the indigenes of the town were celebrating their annual “Isheri Day”.
“The soldiers, on getting there, had a minor disagreement with some youths which made the soldiers start shooting sporadically into the air.
“Consequently, one Damilare Adelani was hit by bullets and he died on the spot. The ugly incident infuriated the people at the scene who in turn reacted violently against the soldiers leaving one of the soldiers and three other civilians injured.
“The soldiers quickly took their injured colleague to a hospital where they met one of the injured civilians being attended to by a medical doctor on duty.
“The statement from the officials of the hospital reveals that the soldiers ordered the doctor at gunpoint to leave the injured man and attend to their colleague.
“They then dragged the patient out of the bed and subsequently stabbed him to death with a Bayonet attached to the muzzle of his rifle.”
Oyeyemi said the command had contacted the military authorities in Ogun State and efforts were on to bring the suspected killer(s) to book.
The police yesterday dismissed a memo issued by the Nigerian Army warning officers and men to steer clear of police personnel over fear of likely reprisal in the wake of last week’s killing of three policemen by soldiers in Taraba State.
In the memo, the army had warned its personnel to be circumspect in their interactions with policemen and to travel in mufti.
But the police said the army should take responsibility for the actions of its men instead of alarming its personnel.
“That is not the solution. The solution is for them to accept that something has gone wrong and accept responsibilities and ensure that blames are apportioned,” the Force Public Relations Officer, Mr. Frank Mba, told ThisDay yesterday.
The police had reacted angrily to the killing of its personnel by soldiers attached to 93 Battalion of the Nigerian Army, Takum, Taraba State and was further infuriated by an army statement that described detectives, who were shot dead while conveying an alleged kidnap kingpin, Alhaji Hamisu Bala Wadume, to the Taraba State Police Command for interrogation.
But in a circular issued Monday by Army Headquarters to military formations, the army also warned travelling personnel to embark on such trips in mufti to avoid confrontation with the police in view of the “inciting and inflammatory” comments made by the police on social media.
The circular dated August 9, 2019 and signed by Brigadier-General F.O Omoigui, noted that “in the aftermath of the unfortunate incident involving troops of 93 Battalion, Takum and members of the Intelligence Response Team of the NPF at Ibi LGA of Taraba State on August 6, 2019, inciting and inflammatory comments are being made by the NPF on the regular and social media platforms.
“This is capable of inciting the rank and file of the NP to exhibit aggressive tendencies against NA personnel. Accordingly, all troops on Internal Security duty as well as personnel travelling in and out of uniform are to be circumspect in their conduct to avoid escalation”.
The circular also directed formation and unit commanders to educate troops to be circumspect in their dealings with the Police.
“Consequently, formations and unit commanders are to educate troops to be cautious in their dealings with members of the NP in view of this development. Troops travelling on pass are to endeavour to do so in mufti,” Buratai said.
But the Police High Command has maintained that issues arising from the killing of police personnel in Taraba would not be addressed by such memos to army personnel warning them against interactions with the police.
The Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, said the army should take responsibility for its actions and apportion blames where necessary.
Speaking through Mba, the IG said such circulars would do little to address the challenge posed by the killing.
On reprisal by police personnel envisaged by the army circular, Mba said: “Police will not say anything further. We have said all we need to say. At the right time, we will give our response.”
Meanwhile, THISDAY gathered that most of the suspects involved in the shooting, including an army captain and some people that witnessed the shooting were moved to Abuja on Monday.
They are presently held in detention facilities as directed by the Defence Headquarters (DHQ).
The shooting of policemen attached to the Intelligence Response Team (IRT) of the Inspector-General of Police had engendered deep mistrust between the police and the army.
The killing of the detectives had also elicited wide condemnations from Nigerians. The policemen, who had arrested a suspected kidnap kingpin, Alhaji Hamisu Bala Wadume, and put him in handcuffs and manacles, had come under a hail of bullets from soldiers along Ibi-Jalingo Road while taking the suspect to the Taraba State Police Command in Jalingo.
The Police Intelligence Response Team (IRT) operating from the office of the Inspector-General of Police was led by ASP Felix Adolije. Other members of the team include Inspector Mark Ediale, Sergeants Usman Danzumi and Dahiru Musa and a civilian while others sustained gunshot wounds.
The DHQ and IG had set up separate panels to investigate the incidence, raising fears that the two might work at cross-purposes.
Army spokesman, Col. Sagir Musa, had said the DHQ panel superseded the IG panel and had automatically collapsed.
The Nigerian Army Captain who allegedly ordered soldiers on security check-point along the Ibi-Jalingo Expressway in Taraba State, to attack and kill police operatives attached to the Inspector General of Police Special Intelligence Response Team, IRT, has been identified.
Vanguard gathered, yesterday, that police investigation carried out so far has revealed that telephone conversations between the kidnap kingpin, Wadume and the Captain , were about 191 within the space of one month between July 9, 2019 and August 6, 2019. The source explained that the police authorities believed that the army captain might have been providing cover for the kidnapper, who is said to have received hundreds of millions as ransom from his victims.
The paper gathered that the Army Captain , who is currently undergoing interrogation at the Defence Headquarters Abuja, was arrested alongside five other Army personnel, who were alleged to have taken part in the horrific killing of the three policemen and their two civilian agents in an operation to arrest a notorious kidnapper, Alhaji Hamisu Balla, alias Wudume, in Ibi area of Taraba
According to the report, the arrested solders confessed that they received orders to attack the policemen from the captain, whom they said informed them that Wadume had been kidnapped and was being transported in a silver-coloured Toyota Hiace Bus.
A source at the Defence Headquarters, Abuja, ssid that the soldiers claimed that they acted squarely on the orders of the captain, being their superior officer, but Police sources at Force Headquarters Abuja, disclosed that the police authorities have established strong links between the army captain and the notorious kidnapper, alleging that the army captain was on the kidnapper’s payroll.
The source added further that its investigations have also revealed that the army captain, who was not present in Ibi Town at the time the IRT operatives arrested Wadume, might have ordered his men to attack and kill the IRT operatives as well as rescue his friend, the kidnapper.
Petition against Wadume received
Meanwhile, Vanguard also reported, yesterday, that the IRT’s manhunt to arrest and bring down Wadume’s kidnapping empire began in March 2019, when it received a petition from one Sheriff Umar of Kirikinua South Local Government Area of Kaduna State.
It was gathered further that the petitioner reported that his cousin, Usman Mayo was kidnapped on the 15th of February, 2019 at Takum Local Government Area of Taraba State and his kidnapper demanded the sum of N200 million as ransom for his release.
The source explained that the family of the kidnapped victim negotiated and paid the sum of N85 million first, on March 11, 2019, but the abductee was not released. He said they paid an additional N15 million, on March 16, 2019, making a total sum paid to the kidnappers N100 million and the kidnappers refused to release their victim insisting that that the family must pay the N200million they demanded.
The source explained that the family reported to the police and the IRT was drafted to investigate and track down the suspects behind the kidnapping and rescue the victim. It was learned that while investigations into the matter commenced, members of the kidnapped victim’s family paid an additional N20m to the kidnappers and the victim was released, but the police discovered during investigations that Wadume had strong links to the kidnappers, who got N120 million as ransom from their victim.
I sold 6 AK-47 rifles to Wadume — Ojomo
The police source, further disclosed that it investigations also revealed that Wadume, had bought several AK-47 rifles from a notorious trans-border arms dealer, Ojomo Adebowale Gbenga, who was arrested in May 2019, by operatives of the IRT for supplying heavy arms and ammunition to kidnappers and armed robbers.
Ojomo, 45, said to be a major arms dealer in the South-Western part of the country, made startling revelations about the fleeing Wadume during an interview.
Ojomo, who was earlier in the year paraded by police authorities over his criminal activities and later detained in Lagos, said that he met Alhaji Wadume four years ago in Benue State and had been selling arms to him under the guise of using them to fight terrorist Fulanis.
Speaking with the paper, Ojomo said that he got to know Wadume through his business partner, Moses in Benue State, and he told him that he needed rifles to fight herdsmen who were killing farmers in his community. The gun runner explained that he got all the rifles, which he sold to Wadume and his friends from Burkina Faso, Mali and Libya and he said he sold the arms to them because they told him that they were having community clashes.
He further disclosed: “I started selling fire arms since 1993 after my secondary school. I worked with a company that deals on licensed arms in 1993 and I left in 1996 and went to school but, I linked up with arms dealers in Ibadan, which is the headquarters of arms dealing in the south western part of the country. I started selling automatic firearms which is prohibited, then one of my friends who is now late, Moses led me to the north. He took me to Benue State and I sold arms to several people, including Alhaji Hamisu (Wadume). He came to me through Moses’ contacts and they identified him as a don. You know arms dealing is a cartel business. I knew very little about him and I sold eight rifles to him in 2015 and in January 2019, he called again and told me that he needed 10 rifles, but I had only six and because he was in hurry, I sold them to him at N800,000 each, and the bullets for N350,000 per can. But after my arrest, I gave information about him to the police. It was while in detention I heard he has been arrested.
Police inspector arrested, recants
Also, a Police Inspector who was accused of informing the Army that operatives of the Inspector-General of Police Intelligence Response Team that visited Ibi community in Taraba state, last week to effect the arrest of the suspected kidnap kingpin did not report to Police authorities, has been arrested.
Preliminary investigation, as reliably gathered, revealed that the policeman was cajoled to say so in order to cement evidences by troops of the 93 Battalion that the operatives were not only kidnappers but were there on an illegal duty.
It was also learned that one of the villagers who allegedly collected the firearms from the dead policemen revealed during interrogation that the weapons belonging to the slain police officers were collected from him by some soldiers.
Thevpaper reported that the Police inspector attached to Ibi Police Station confirmed that the operatives visited the station to inform the senior officer there that they had concluded their operations and were leaving with the arrested suspect.
Unconfirmed reports said the policeman was given an undisclosed amount of money to maintain his stand that he told the troops that the policemen did not report at the station.
However, sources said the Inspector denied during interrogation at Force Headquarters, Abuja, that he did not collect any money from the Army.
It was further learned that about three villagers collected the firearms that were flung in different places into the bush after the police team was shot, when their vehicle somersaulted. One of them was said to have taken the arms to his home from where it was collected by the soldiers.
A villager who spoke on the condition of anonymity revealed that the suspected kidnap kingpin who is still on the run, is a popular person in Ibi community.
He was said to have contested for the House of Assembly, Ibi constituency in the last election, under the Young Democratic Party, but lost.
The 35-year-old man, said to be a petty trader, was revered in the community, due to his philanthropic nature.
He was said to have bought motorcycles for some youths, some of who thronged the scene where the operatives were killed, jubilating that their benefactor’s enemies had been overpowered.
At the moment, villagers in Ibi community are said to be keeping sealed lips on what transpired during the arrest of the suspected kidnapper, last week, for fear of being attacked by loyalists to the suspect.
Some of those close to the kidnap suspects have taken to their heels, apparently to avoid being arrested over his whereabouts.
Widow to address press today
Meanwhile, widow of the slain Inspector Mark Ediale, who is yet to come to terms with the rude shock of her husband’s demise, has left Lagos for the Force headquarters, Abuja, where she was received by senior police officers who condoled her and other widows over the tragic incident.
But her late husband’s family, it was reliably gathered, will be briefing journalists in Abuja today, where some salient questions would be posed to killers of their son.
The family, Vanguard learned, is requesting an explanation on how Inspector Ediale died, when he was seen alive in a video clip that went viral.
Soldiers who opened fire on three policemen in Taraba state were ordered by a captain, New Telegraph quoted sources as saying.
The officer is believed to be part of those benefiting from the largesse of Hamisu Wadume, the suspected kidnap kingpin whom the police officers had gone to arrest.
A source was quoted as saying the wanted kidnap suspect, who has been generous to soldiers in Ibi, paid a ransom of N1.5 million when one of the soldiers was kidnapped few months ago.
While the police had accused the army of killing their men and freeing Wadume, the army said soldiers mistook the policemen, who were on a covert operation, for kidnappers.
Since the incident happened, the police and army have had exchanges, with police asking the army for the whereabouts of the kingpin who had already been arrested before the soldiers struck.
According to the army, the officers, who were members of the police’s intelligence response team (IRT), were shot over refusal to stop at checkpoints mounted by the soldiers.
But the newspaper quoted sources as saying the policemen had earlier encountered the soldiers at the three checkpoints, and they had introduced themselves, stating what they came for.
“They even chatted, joked and exchanged pleasantries,” one of the sources reportedly said.
“The arrest was made within 20 minutes and while they were returning, soldiers at the first and second checkpoints asked them if they were already through. The soldiers and operatives know one another, but the phone call from a top military personnel changed everything.”
The policemen, the newspaper said, were taken unawares, and they lost control of their vehicle which somersaulted under the torrents of gunshots.
The source said: “When the operatives got to Ibi town, they booked their arrival at the police station and proceeded with assistance from a policeman attached to them in the state headquarters, Jalingo, to trace and arrest Alhaji Hamisu Wadume, who is wanted because he is linked to several kidnappings in Taraba State, including a recent kidnapping in which N100 million was collected as ransom.
“After arresting Wadume, the operatives were heading to police headquarters at Jalingo, when gang members of Wadume, who are close to an army captain serving in Ibi town, called the army and told him that his friend had been kidnapped. Without any verification or inquiries, the army captain ordered his men along the highway to ambush the policemen.”
Sagir Musa, army spokesman, did not immediately respond to a message seeking his reaction over these allegations.
However, sources said the captain has been arrested.
Following President’s Muhammadu Buhari’s directive, the defence headquarters has constituted a seven-man panel to probe the killings.
The police have asked the Nigerian Army to explain the whereabouts of the Taraba kidnap kingpin, Hamisu Wadume, allegedly set free by soldiers who reportedly attacked a police team conveying the suspect to Taraba State Police Command headquarters in Jalingo, on Tuesday.
The force also demanded explanations on why the suspect was released, insisting that he could not have escaped with handcuffs from his “military rescuers.”
The Force spokesman, DCP Frank Mba, had explained in a statement in Abuja on Wednesday, that an Intelligence Response Team led by ASP Felix Adolije came under attack from soldiers while taking Wadume to the Command Headquarters in Jalingo.
During the attack, Inspector Mark Ediale, Sergeants Usman Danzumi, Dahiru Musa and a civilian died as a result of gunshot injuries, while others sustained gunshot wounds.
The Army in its reaction said the policemen failed to identify themselves to soldiers at a checkpoint on Ibi – Jalingo Road, adding that they mistook the police team for kidnappers.
But Mba in a statement on Thursday, picked holes in the military’s defense, stressing that Wadume who was in restraints could not have escaped from the soldiers after his purported rescue.
He said, “In the best tradition of esprit de Corps, inter-agency harmony and national interest, the Nigeria Police Force would naturally have kept quiet, but it has become imperative to set the record straight by addressing the obvious distortion of facts inherent in the press release by the Nigerian Army.
“The most important question arising from the Nigerian Army statement is: Where is Alhaji Hamisu Bala Wadume? Wadume is a millionaire kidnapper arrested by the Police but paradoxically treated as a ‘kidnap victim’ by the soldiers and subsequently ‘rescued’ by them. Where is he? Where is the rescued kidnapper?”
The police wondered why Wadume was not taken to the Army Base for documentation and debriefing in line with NA’s standard operating procedure.
“Why were the Police operatives shot at close range even after they had identified themselves as Police Officers on legitimate duty as evident in the video now in circulation?,” the force further asked.
It said that the Army was silent on the source of the alleged distress report or identity of the complainant whose report it claimed informed their decision to engage in the purported chase and rescue operation.
Over 1,000 soldiers killed on the battlefront in the fight against insurgency were secretly buried in Maiduguri, Borno state, according to a report by The Wall Street Journal.
Quoting military sources, the newspaper said the number of soldiers buried in that manner could be higher than the figure.
It said on the eve of President Muhammadu Buhari’s visit to Borno in November, army commanders secretly moved corpses of soldiers from a morgue to unmarked graves.
“When President Buhari visited the Maiduguri base in November, commanders rushed to bury bodies that had collected at the morgue from the recent attack on the base in Metele and several others, according to several soldiers at the base,” the report read.
Fence of the reported burial ground
According to Wall Street Journal, this is the fence of the secret burial ground
“They moved the bodies from the morgue into the unmarked graves under cover of darkness.”
A soldier was quoted as saying: “We could see the headlamps and the torches of the engineering division digging the graves.”
The report said as the commanders prepared the base for the president’s arrival, they also drafted in additional medical staff to treat the dozens of wounded soldiers in the base’s hospital wards.
It said as soldiers tried to register complaints about their conditions when Buhari addressed them, the president pledged to do everything within his powers to continue empowering them.
The military authorities are reportedly trying to expand the secret graveyard.
“As the secret cemetery at the Maimalari barracks grows, the military has expanded the site into neighboring fields,” the report read.
Sarah James, a 50-year-old farmer, was quoted as saying: “The farmland has been fenced off so they can bury
Sagir Musa, army spokesman is yet to comment on the report.
The Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen Tukur Buratai has approved new postings and appointments for officers of the Nigerian Army.
A statement by Col. Sagir Musa, Acting Director, Army Public Relations, on Sunday in Abuja, said the new postings was a routine exercise to reinvigorate the system.
Musa said the new postings and appointments involved the appointment of the newly promoted Lt.-Gen Lamidi Adeosun, the erstwhile Chief of Training and Operations now redeployed as Chief of Policy and Plans of the Army.
He said that Maj.-Gen A.O Shodunke from Army Headquarters Department of Army Standards and Evaluation was appointed as Chief of Defence Logistics, Defence Headquarters.
Maj.-Gen A.A Tarfa from Martin Luther Agwai International Leadership and Peacekeeping Centre to Training and Doctrine Command Minna as Commander.
He added that Maj.-Gen E.O Udoh from the Army Headquarters Department of Army Logistics has been appointed Chief of Training and Operations, while Maj.-Gen. M.S Yusuf who was the General Officer Commanding 81 Division has become the Chief of Administration (Army).
Maj.-Gen J.I Unuigbe the former Corps Commander Ordnance became the Chief of Logistics (Army) while Maj.-Gen. O.F Azinta former General Officer Commanding 2 Division is appointed Chief of Army Standard and Evaluation.
“Others include; Maj.-Gen. A.B Omozoje of Army Headquarters Department of Policy and Plans is now the General Officer Commanding 2 Division Ibadan.
“Also, the newly promoted Maj.-Gen A.B Biu is substantive General Officer Commanding 7 Division Maiduguri while Maj.-Gen. J.J Ogunlade from Defence Headquarters becomes the General Officer Commanding 8 Division Sokoto.
“While Maj.-Gen J.O Irefin from Defence Headquarters Garrison is appointed General Officer Commanding 81 Division Lagos, the erstwhile Chief of Administration (Army), Maj.-Gen. KAY Isiyaku is now Commander Defence Headquarters Garrison Abuja.
“Maj.-Gen. A.A Jidda from Defence Headquarters is appointed Coordinator Peacekeeping Operations at the Ministry of Defence while Maj.-Gen J.O Oni from Army Headquarters Department of Army Administration takes over as Director Procurement, Defence Headquarters.
“Maj.-Gen. O.A Akintade who was Director Procurement, Defence Headquarters, becomes Corps Commander Ordinance Lagos, while Maj.-Gen O.W Ali from Defence Headquarters is now Director Army Physical Training Zaria.
“Maj.-Gen. E.N Njoku remains at Defence Headquarters and redeployed as Director Communications while Maj.-Gen. C.G Musa from Nigerian Army Farms and Ranches Limited is appointed Commander Sector 3 Operation LAFIYA DOLE, Monguno.”
He also disclosed that Maj.-Gen O.T Akinjobi from the Headquarters Sector 3 Operation LAFIYA DOLE would become the Director Standards and Evaluation at Defence Headquarters.
Musa further disclosed that Brig.-Gen K.A Kazir would remain in Army Headquarters Department of Projects and Programmes and appointed Acting Executive Director of Nigerian Army Farms and Ranches Limited.
He also said Brig.-Gen. A.E Attu moved from Nigerian Army Resource Centre to National Defence College as Acting Deputy Commandant while Brig.-Gen M.T Usman from Headquarters 28 Task Force Brigade moved to Headquarters Guards Brigade Abuja as Commander.
“Brig.-Gen U.T Musa, who was the Commandant, Headquarters Guards Brigade becomes Acting Commandant Martin Luther Agwai International Leadership and Peacekeeping Centre Jaji, while Brig.-Gen G.O Adesina remains at the Department of Policy and Plans and redeployed as Acting Director, Policy.
“Similarly, Brig.-Gen L.A Fejokwu from National Defence College is now the Acting Director Personnel Services at Army Headquarters, while Brig.-Gen. E.A.P Undiandeye from Army Headquarters Department of Army Transformation and Innovation becomes the Acting Director Foreign Liaison at the Defence Intelligence Agency Abuja.
“Brig.-Gen J.Y Nimyel from Nigerian Army Resource Centre Abuja takes over as the Commandant Amphibious Training School Calabar from Brig.-Gen. O.O Oluyede who is now Commander 27 Task Force Brigade Buni Yadi.
“Brig.-Gen. P.P Malla moves from 82 Division Garrison Enugu to Headquarters 28 Task Force Brigade Chibok as Commander.
Brig.-Gen. O.M Bello of Headquarters 6 Division Port Harcourt becomes the Commander 1 Brigade Sokoto while Brig.-Gen. M.A Etsu-Ndagi from Army Headquarters Garrison Abuja becomes the Commander 9 Brigade Lagos.
Col. R.C Emeh from Defence Headquarters has been appointed Assistant Director Army Physical Training at 3 Division Physical Training Group Jos, while Col. M.O Erebulu who just completed a course at Higher War College Egypt was appointed Commander 2 Provost Group Ibadan.
Lt.-Col. S.A Abimbola from Nigerian Army Operations Centre at Army Headquarters was appointed Commanding Officer 343 Artillery Regiment Elele, Lt.-Col. S.M Ahmed from 375 Artillery Regiment Baga becomes the Commanding Officer 332 Artillery Regiment Shendam, amongst others.
Musa said that the Chief of Army Staff wished them well in their respective appointments and charged them to take their new responsibilities seriously and discharge all duties professionally with utmost loyalty to Service and Nation.
He said that all the appointments take immediate effect.
Five Nigerian soldiers have been declared wanted by the Nigerian Army after they absconded with a large amount of cash owned by a ‘VIP’ (Very Important Personality).
Nigerian Army insiders disclosed that victim of the robbery is Hakeem Otiki, the General Officer Commanding, 8 Division of the Army, based in Sokoto, according to a report by Premium Times.
The officer could not be reached for comments Sunday morning, the paper said.
Sources said the soldiers were detailed on July 11 by Otiki, a major general leading the military operation against bandits in Nigeria’s troubled Northwest, to escort huge cash to Abuja. The source of the money and exactly where it was being taken to in Abuja remained unclear.
It was learnt that after they escorted the cash from Sokoto to the Nigerian Army airstrip in Jaji, Kaduna State, the soldiers refused to load the money into a military jet that was supposed to airlift it to Abuja. They had conveyed the cash from Sokoto to Jaji in a convoy of a Toyota Hilux truck and a Buffalo gun truck.
The VIP (said to be Gen. Otiki) was said to be in the white Toyota truck while the soldiers were in the gun truck during the roughly 400 kilometres journey.
According to our sources, on arrival at Jaji, the five uniformed men — two corporals and three lance corporals — connived amongst themselves to share the cash. They then deserted military service, sources said.
“They also removed all their uniforms and abandoned their rifles in the vehicles at the air strip in Jaji,” a top military source with details of the incident said.
It was not immediately clear how much the cash was, but military sources estimated it ran into billions.
The spokespersons for the Nigerian Army Headquarters in Abuja and the 8 Division Headquarters in Sokoto were not immediately available for comments when reached by the paper on Sunday morning.
According to the paper, the soldiers were detailed from the Nigerian Army Infantry Corps Centre, Jaji, where Mr Otiki was once a commander. He moved them to Sokoto when he was transferred to head the 8 Division in March.
A military source said the soldiers have long been monitoring the activities of their superiors based on the functions they had delegated to them in the past.
“But after spending a long time handling transactions for them (senior officers) while they (soldiers) remained in penury, they decided to take their destiny into their own hands with the latest opportunity,” one officer said.
“The soldiers acted in a breach of trust. However, this is the outcome of soldiers seeing huge financial transactions being carried out by their principal but were not taken care of financially themselves.”
“The soldiers have decided to abandon military work in order to settle down with the money.”
The officers provided the details under anonymity to avoid jeopardising their careers because military authorities did not want the public to know about the latest scandalous development, the paper said.
Military sources identified the five soldiers as Gabriel Oluwaniyi, a corporal; Mohammed Aminu, a corporal; Commander Haruna, a lance corporal; Oluji Joshua, a lance corporal; and Hayatudeen Abubakar, a lance corporal.
An aggressive manhunt has been launched to track them down and escort them back to their base for prosecution.
Their last known locations have been identified with geolocation equipment, a source said.
The Army had also commenced efforts to freeze their bank accounts amidst the manhunt.
Soldiers with waning fighting spirit in the ongoing anti-insurgency war are to get the push, Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai said on Sunday.
Describing such soldiers as bad eggs, the Army chief said transformational leadership of which he is an advocate would not wait for them to get out of the way before they are kicked out.
Lt.-Gen. Buratai’s threat to ease out those he called “bad eggs” came less than a week after he decried their attitude on the battle field, blaming recent setback in the anti-terror war on “insufficient commitment to a common national and military cause by those at the frontlines”.
His remark at a conference in Abuja sparked criticisms, with some saying it was damaging to the troop’s morale. Others praised Gen. Buratai’s “courage” in admitting that something was wrong.
According to Army spokesman Col. Sagir Musa, the COAS made the latest remarks at the closing of Army Headquarters Transformational leadership workshop in Abuja.
Col. Musa said in a statement that the COAS implored officers and men of the Army to feel proud of their patriotic roles in their struggles to protect the nation’s sovereignty and integrity.
He quoted Gen. Buratai as saying: “The NA is already working to evolve and institutionalise formal mentoring frameworks to compliment the informal system.
“It is with a great sense of accomplishment that I address this distinguished audience to mark the successful conclusion of the maiden Army Headquarters Transformational Leadership Workshop 2019.
“In my opening remarks, I observed how the attitude of quite a few bad eggs among us, whose commitment to our national/military cause has waned and led to setbacks in our operations. I am glad that this workshop has clearly shown to everyone that we have great reasons to be proud of our nation.
“The long standing culture of service, sacrifice and honour in the NA has been reaffirmed in the various life lessons and examples of our colleagues – serving, retired or late – whose stories were highlighted during the workshop.
“This culture should reinvigorate and motivate you as transformational leaders for selfless service to the nation.
In Borno State, far away from the workshop venue, troops neutralised two terrorists after thwarting an ambush plan by the insurgents, the Army announced on Sunday.
Col. Musa said the ambush was laid against the troops by desperate members of the Boko Haram terrorists, who were in dire need of food and other essential materials.
He said in a statement that troops on escort duty later killed two terrorists during a fierce encounter that followed.
Col. Musa said: “In its routine effort in providing and maintaining a secure, and steady passage of persons and goods as well as free vehicular movements on some notable roads/Main Supply Routes (MSR) in the Northeast, troops of 26 Brigade Garrison on patrol and escort duties of civilian merchants and commuters on Wala village and adjoining communities on Saturday, June 22, 2019, had a fierce encounter with desperate terrorists’ ambush team, desperately craving for food and other essentials.
“During the encounter, troops swiftly responded with heavy gunfire, thwarted the ambush, exterminated two terrorists and captured two AK 47 rifles.
“Subsequently, intelligence revealed that the terrorists were informed by their informants of the troops’ movement in order to use the opportunity to grab foodstuff that they direly need for survival.
“To consolidate on the gains achieved from the ambush clearance, further exploitation of the general area and beyond was undertaken with the troops of 121 Task Force Battalion dispatched to reinforce the 26 Brigade Garrison.
“During advance, troops discovered two Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) concealed along their axis of advance. The IEDs were successfully detonated and cleared.
“Despite the IED threat, the resilient troops proceeded further to ensure the general area is cleared of terrorists and explosives. There is no casualty on the part of Nigerian Army troops during the operation.
“Instructively, the exploits in the ongoing Operation Halaka Dodois yielding successes. The Acting General Officer Commanding (GOC) 7 Division Nigerian Army Operation Lafiya Dole, Brigadier General Abdulmalik Bulama Biu on behalf of the Chief of Army Staff commended the troops for the successes achieved. He urged them to be more vigorous and decisive to end the insurgency. He also conveyed the assurance of the unyielding support of the Chief of Army Staff in this regard.
In Katsina State, troops arrested 20 suspected bandits and kidnappers, among them a notorious kingpin, the Army said on Sunday.
According to the army spokesman, troops recovered weapons, motorcycles and foodstuff from the suspects.
He alleged in a statement that the gang was responsible for cattle-rustling and kidnapping in Katsina.
The statement reads: “In continuation of operations against armed banditry, kidnapping, cattle rustling and other criminalities in Katsina State, troops of 17 Brigade on Operation Harbin Kunama III have arrested a notorious bandit/kidnapping kingpin, Mallam Bawa Gomna and 20 others during operations around Batsari, Jibia and Safana Local Government Areas (LGAs) of Katsina State between June 3 and 21, 2019.
“Those arrested so far are reportedly responsible for terrorising villagers in Batsari, Jibia and Safana local government areas.
“The criminal elements were apprehended based on credible intelligence from the locals, and have confessed taking part in several banditry activities, cattle-rustling and other sundry crimes.
“They, as usual, will be handed over to the respective law enforcement agency for further action.
“The 17 Brigade Nigerian Army commends and appreciates all those that provided the information that led to the arrest of the criminals and urged members of the public to continue to support security agencies with credible information to combat the insecurity.”
Col. Musa listed those arrested and seized items as: Bawa Gomna of Garin Waiziri in Safana Local Government Area, Mallam Bello Sabiu of Fafara village of Jibia Local Government Area and Ibrahim Umar of Fafara village, Jibia Local Government Area – logistics suppliers of the bandits.
“Others are: Mallam Ibrahim Labo of Shamushelle village in Birnin Magaji Local Government Area, Zamfara State, Musa Lawal (Maitonga village in Safana Local Government Area), Mallam Adamu Mohammed (Mairuwa village, Faskari Local Government Area) and Ibrahim Babangida Mairuwa (Faskari Local Government Area).
“Also arrested are: Sani Adamu (Mairuwa village, Faskari Local Government Area), Yusuf Abubakar ( Mairuwa village, Faskari Local Government Area) and Adamu Saidu (Mairuwa village, Faskari Local Government Area of Katsina State).
“Also, troops recovered motorcycles, foodstuff, handsets and jerry cans of petroleum motor sprit (PMS) from the bandits,” Col. Musa stated.
The Nigerian Army on Monday said it killed nine ”social media personalities” of the Islamic State for West African Province(ISWAP)
Col. Sagir Musa, Army Director Public Relations, who disclosed this in a statement, said the annihilation of members of the Boko Haram media team further confirmed that the Nigerian Army has decimated the group and they no longer have freedom of action.
He gave the names as: ”Abu Hurayra al-Barnawi, Ali al-Ghalam al-Kajiri, Abu Musab Muhammed Mustafa al-Maiduguri, Abu Abdullah Ali al-Barnawi, and Abu Musa al-Camerooni.
”Others are Ahmed al-Muhajir, Abu Ali al-Bamawi, Abu Khubayb bin Ahmed al-Barnawi, Abu al-Qa’qa’ al-Maiduguri.
“The terrorist group is known for its online media propaganda and quest to maintain a virtual caliphate,”he said.
NAN reports that Boko Haram launched using the media in 2009, starting with a very traditional media approach through propaganda films, many of them aimed at recruiting new fighters from Nigeria and neighbouring countries including Niger, Chad and Cameroon.
NAN reports that from 2014, their p0strategy changed into more use of social media platforms, videos, and creating multiple accounts like Facebook and Twitter platforms, mostly as a way to communicate with individuals.
Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai, said the death of three military personnel on Monday in Borno was “wake-up call’’ for the army to further strategise to defeat terrorists.
He stated this at the burial of Lt.-Col. Ibrahim Aminu, Cpl. Jibril Ahmadu and Lance Cpl. Tijjani Mohammed, at the Maimalari Cantonment Cemetery in Maiduguri on Tuesday.
Aminu, the Commanding Officer, 145 Task Force Battalion and the two soldiers died on Monday when, during patrol, their vehicle ran over an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) planted by Boko Haram insurgents. The device exploded.
The incident occurred at Mauli-Borgozo axis in Kaga Local Government Area of Borno.
Buratai said “this threat, IEDs, is real but we are taking all measures to ensure that we counter it.
“The challenge that we are having in the North-East has always been the enemy action, either through encounter or Improvised Explosive Device being exploded on our troops, and today’s burial is one of those incidents that involve IED.
“This is a situation that will require us to be vigilant at all times and to ensure that we protect ourselves from this menace of the IEDs.’’
He described the death of the officer and soldiers as “highly unfortunate and regrettable’’.
“Today, it is with heavy heart that we bury our colleagues who paid the supreme sacrifice in course of duty.
“It is a great loss; we will miss them.
“Let me pay my condolences to the families of the late lieutenant-colonel and two soldiers, and indeed all of us – officers and men of Operation Lafiya Dole and Nigerian army,’’ Buratai lamented.
Meanwhile, the Control and Command Centre of the Operation Lafiya Dole, on Monday unveiled a device to counter IEDs, as part of the measures to tackle the challenge.
The device, a padded roller supported by plate, weighing about 280 kilogrammes and attached to heavy duty truck, is capable of detecting and safely detonating IED.
And, in case the device goes off, the plate protects the vehicle and troops.
At the unveiling in Maiduguri, Buratai assured that apart from the roller, Nigerian Army Manufacturing Company was developing a similar device which would be mass produced “as soon as we get it correct.’’
He said that the device, when produced, would be used to counter the threat of IED.
On general security in the North-East, the army chief said that the situation was improving, but expressed worry about the terrorists’ resilience.
According to him they still move around causing havoc and sometimes attacking military locations.
He charged troops to sit up and deal with the terrorists, who he described as “criminal elements bent on destabilising the country and make life difficult for the citizens’’.
“We should not allow them to triumph over us.
“This should never be allowed to happen and therefore, we must make sure that we deal with them decisively and to do that, we must remain alert, conscious of our environment and must be vigilant all times.
“What is required now is just vigilance.
“We must ensure that all suspicious movements in and around locations are reported or actions are taken and arrest made. This will help us in this operation,’’ he said.
Buratai said that efforts were being made to procure required equipment and platforms for the ongoing operations, adding very soon, the first set of consignment would be delivered to the army.
He said that the equipment would greatly help to address some of the gaps observed in operations.
He disclosed that the military was taking “some strong and decisive measures’’ to checkmate the activities of the “Boko Haram jihadists’’.
The COAS urged citizens, especially Borno and Yobe states people, to be patient with whatever steps being taken to contain the terrorists.
“There may be some inconveniences; it is for the good of all of us, people of Borno and Yobe, and indeed, all Nigerians,’’ he said.